Saturday, November 14, 2009

God's New Word -- Rooted in the Word

The United Church of Christ has this great slogan -- "God is still speaking." It's a good reminder, whether we'd like to hear it or not, that God didn't just leave instructions and then take off. God is still present and active in the world, often doing new things. But, that new thing has roots, and those roots can be found in the biblical story.

As a more progressive Christian pastor, I'm grateful for the freedom that I have in interpreting the biblical text. I'm not tied to an ancient world view. I can embrace the witness of science, for example. I can recognize that on issues such as women, slavery, and I would add homosexuality, our understandings of the world and the way it works have changed. That being said, we should not, as Christians neglect our roots. Mainline churches have a tendency to discount the biblical story, and thus our people don't know the story. We can spend so much time wrestling with whether this or that story is true or not that we fail to hear the story itself.

With this in mind, I find helpful these words by Bruce and Kate Epperly -- progressive mainline pastors/educators:

God is speaking a new word and doing a new thing in our place and time, but this new and lively word remains grounded in God's uniquely revealing presence in Jesus of Nazareth and the texts of Scripture. Thus, whenever we pick up the Scriptures to prepare for a sermon, we are not only experiencing Forrrest Gump's sense of expectancy at the surprise of scriptural chocolates that awaits us but also opening our lives to the ongoing revelation of the living God in our specific time and place. (Bruce and Kate Epperly, Tending to the Holy, Alban, 2009, p. 31)


My comment on this is simply this: unless we know the arc of the story we will find it difficult to hear God's voice in the word.

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